Sunday 21 May 2017

Benefiting from the Fruits of your Labours

RHS Chelsea flower show is here, and with it the art of the possible.

Every year about this time I think about growing my own vegetables. I think about how lovely it would be to eat the fruits of my labour later in the year. I dream of freshly picked green beans, beetroots straight from the ground, and picking ripe juicy raspberries from the bush. I imagine the recipes I could use, and the wonderful meals I could cook with the home-grown fruits and vegetables. The fun and laughter with the friends I’d invite to share in the delights of my garden.

Then reality sets in as I watch my neighbours as they spend hours I don’t have, nor have the motivation, sowing seeds, carefully putting them in the greenhouse, watering then daily, pricking out and thinning the seeds as they grow, repotting them, and then feeding and generally putting a lot of time and effort into their own fruit and vegetable plots.

When I told Terry, the guy who mows my lawn, of my plans he smiled sweetly as he recalled all the times he’s had to tell me he’s going to prune a bush, or set about the garden to weed it after it’s got very overgrown.

Isn’t that the same in many organisations? Not for fruit and veg but for our suppliers? We have high hopes and expectations of our suppliers, and yet we, and our organisation, are not prepared to put in the effort needed to bring forth that bounty?

If we expect suppliers to do it themselves without our support and assistance then we shouldn’t be surprised if we end up with an overgrown lawn, a tree whose roots are busy undermining the house’s foundations, plants throttling other plants, or plants that have died through lack of water.   

Many of the horror stories of procurement gone wrong can track their origin to suppliers left to fend for themselves, or inadequately cared for. 

Who in your organisation is responsible for tending for your suppliers, and will the fruits of their labours meet organisational expectations in the autumn?

Gardening is a metaphor I often use with non-procurement managers as it’s something they can relate to more easily than the process we enthuse about and understand intimately. This post explores the metaphor further, and I’ve also pulled together a Pinterest board exploring different aspects of the metaphor.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking Procurement Potential using Unconventional Tools 

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